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5 Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

by Mandy
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Munich skyline

Here is our bucket list round-up of cities to visit in Germany! We fell in love with Germany during our road trip and found that it had so much to offer! During our trip, we travelled all over, exploring as much of the scenery that Southern Germany has to offer. We explored The Black Forest and took in the magnificent views along the German Alps. This was also the start of us ticking off our own bucket list cities to visit in Germany, travelling to Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dusseldorf and more.

With these experiences in mind, here are our recommendations for 5 bucket list cities to visit in Germany! From stunning medieval architecture in pretty little Heidelberg, to a city like Berlin, bursting with history and culture (and everything in-between).

Cologne - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

5 Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

Germany offers a range of experiences whatever your interests may be. It has vibrant cities steeped in history, culture, and innovation, such as Berlin, with iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate. There’s Munich with its traditional beer gardens and Oktoberfest celebrations. Or Germany’s picturesque countryside, dotted with fairy tale castles, lush forests, and winding rivers. You can indulge in the country’s world-renowned cuisine, explore its impressive art and architecture or delve into its fascinating history. This guide to our 5 best cities to visit in Germany covers all of this and so much more! So without further ado, lets get stuck in!

5. Cologne

Sitting alongside the Rhine River, Cologne is a picturesque city in Western Germany. Cologne isn’t often on top of everyone’s bucket list in Germany, but to us, this is even more reason to visit. It very much flies under the radar as a popular / tourist heavy city, meaning it’s easy to see the main sights and quickly slot into Cologne’s culture. It may be a small city, but it packs a punch! At just a 1 hour flight from London, it’s well worth adding to your list for your next city break.

Churches & Cologne Cathedral

There are 12 churches scattered across Cologne, but none more impressive than the gothic Cologne Cathedral. It is the city’s most iconic sight in its skyline and is the second tallest church in Germany. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a stunning building, and one of the biggest attractions in Cologne. You can also climb to the top of the cathedral’s iconic tower for panoramic views over the city. Also worth visiting is photogenic Gross St Martin, with impressive architecture which looks more in keeping with Prague’s city centre.

Hohenzollern Bridge

Perhaps Cologne’s second most iconic landmark is the impressive Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke). At over 400m long, it is one of seven bridges that cross the Rhine River in Cologne. What makes Hohenzollern particularly iconic is its position directly in front of Cologne Cathedral, creating quite the stunning view from the other side of the river. Built in 1907, the bridge is a perfect transport system for trains, pedestrians and bicycles. In fact, the bridge is Germany’s busiest for rail traffic, with about 1500 crossings per day!

Take a stroll across the bridge at sunset for some truly beautiful views of the cathedral and the bridge’s illumination as it gets dark. The railings are also completely covered in padlocks, which have become an attraction in their own right.

Cologne - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

Köln Triangle

Köln Triangle is a 103m building, directly opposite Cologne Cathedral on the other side of the Rhine River. While the majority of the building acts as office space, the top floor is a public observation deck where you can take advantage of the stunning city and river views. On a clear day it’s said that you can see as far as Düsseldorf! The views are great at any time of the day, but arrive just after sunset for some exceptional the twilight views.

In addition to the observation deck, there’s also the KölnSky restaurant on the 27th floor with flouninterrupted city views. There’s also a Mongolian restaurant on the ground floor.

Kölner Seilbahn

The Kölner Seilbahn (or Cologne Cable Car) is another alternative beautiful views across the Rhine River. The journey is just over 900m and takes a little over 5 minutes to cross. It’s a quick and easy way to travel, whilst providing some of the best scenic views Cologne has to offer.

Take a river cruise

Cologne has lots of beauty to offer. From its stunning cathedral, to traditional picture-perfect buildings lining the river. There’s no better way to see it all than from the Rhine River, which flows through the heart of the city. Why not catch a harbour boat tour, where you can take in the sights by day, or during sunset?

Another option is to walk along the promenade by the very pretty Rheingarten. It’s filled with locals relaxing in the open space, plus cafes, bars and restaurants for river-side eating. It’s a peaceful place to be in a busy city.

In summary – why do we love Cologne? We love its laidback vibe along the river. There are ample opportunities to take in the views, either from above, by boat, or from the ground, making this one of our top bucket list cities to visit in Germany.

Heidelberg - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

4. Heidelberg

Heidelberg is widely considered (and we would agree) to be one of Germany’s most beautiful cities. Situated alongside the Neckar River, Heidelberg has lots of romantic charm. From its fairy tale multi-arched bridge across the river to lush green rolling hills surrounding the city. Not forgetting the castle ruins which tower above from high in the hills. So what makes Heidelberg one of our bucket list cities to visit in Germany?

Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg)

Heidelberg Castle is easily the star attraction here. Perched 80 meters up on Königstuhl hill, it overlooks the city, the old town, old bridge and Neckar River, offering some truly stunning views. The city was heavily attacked in the 17th Century, resulting in the ruins we see today. The castle however is still relatively in tact, with grounds and terraces a plenty for you to explore.

Take the funicular to Königstuhl

Europe loves a funicular! From Lisbon and Budapest, to Salzburg, but I wouldn’t say there are many with views quite like Heidelberg’s.

You can catch the funicular up to Heidelberg Castle if you don’t fancy the steep walk! Or you can ride it past the castle to the next station, which takes you to Königstuhl. A 550+ meter hill, it is the highest point in Heidelberg with some incredible, unique vantage points. From here you can follow the walking trails and explore the surrounding woodland for a peaceful spot above the city.

THE TOP 10 Heidelberg Tours & Excursions (UPDATED 2024)
THE TOP 10 Heidelberg Tours & Excursions (UPDATED 2024)

Heidelberg tours and excursions. Check out Viator’s reviews and photos of Heidelberg tours





Old town & market square

The heart of Heidelberg, market square (or Marktplatz) is a bustling hub, where medieval markets were held centuries ago. The old town oozes charm and character. Lined with colourful buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants, it’s the perfect place to grab a refreshing drink or bite to eat after exploring the city’s hills.

Heidelberg - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany
Heidelberg - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

Philosopher’s Walk (Philosophenweg)

Named after the city’s many University Professors who would often walk along Heidelberg’s hills for some thinking space and contemplation. Philosopher’s Way is a walking trail on the other side of the river, with stunning views back towards Heidelberg. Although there are some steep sections, the walk is generally considered a beginners trail and is roughly 1.5 miles (2.4km) long. There are lots of view points along the way, so you can stop to rest and take your time, while admiring the beautiful views below you.

The Old Bridge

Another iconic feature of Heidelberg is its beautiful Old Bridge – The Karl Theodor Bridge. This is one of the most picturesque landmarks in the city, with either the lush rolling hills of Philosopher’s Walk in the background, or from the other side, you have Heidelberg Castle rising from the hills. The bridge crosses the scenic Neckar River, where you can people watch along the banks, or watch the boats sail up and down the river.

A good photo spot is halfway along the bridge, looking towards the Old Town and the old entrance gate, with its tall white towers.

In summary – why do we love Heidelberg? It is still a little off the tourist track which we love. It’s steeped in history, we love its medieval architecture and its unique positioning amongst those rolling green hills!

Freiburg - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

3. Freiburg

Tucked away in the Black Forest is the student city of Freiburg, an old medieval city, filled with historic architecture and cobblestone streets. Freiburg also has the title of Germany’s greenest city! So if you’re looking for a sustainable break, that’s easy to squeeze into a weekend, then Freiburg’s your place!

Freiburg Cathedral

The Cathedral (or Freiburger Münster) is right in the heart of the city. You can choose to go inside, or purely admire it from the outside. Built back in the 1200s, Freiburger Münster is one of the few buildings or churches which survived the bombing during World War 2. Its 116-meter west tower has also been described as “the most beautiful spire on earth”.

Town Square (Münsterplatz)

If you’re checking out the cathedral then you will likely also visit the lovely Town Square of Freiburg. A cute cobblestone square, situated in front of the cathedral and lined with picturesque buildings, cafes and restaurants. The Münsterplatz is filled with character, including Freiburg’s bächle (brook), which are small waterways running throughout the city. Watch your step though – the channels are carved out in the streets and pavements, meaning they can be easy to trip over if you’re not paying attention.

Freiburg Town Gates

Much like other historic medieval cities (like Rothenburg), Freiburg was once a walled city, with only a few gates (tors) serving as access in and out of the city. Not all have survived, but Freiburg has two prominent towers which have stood the test of time. 

Ride the Schlossbergbahn

Another city, another funicular! In less than 5 minutes, you can ride the city’s funicular (Schlossbergbahn) to the top of the city’s mountain for some incredible views overlooking Freiburg. Centuries ago, there had been a castle (Schloss) up there, but now all that remains are a few ruins scattered across the mountainside. Once at the top, you can hike some of the many walking trails, exploring the area and surrounding hills and woodland.

Explore the Black Forest

Another reason Freiburg should be on your bucket list of cities to visit in Germany is because of its location within the Black Forest. There are lots of charming cities within the Black Forest, such as the spa city of Baden-Baden, or even Stuttgart slightly further out, but Freiburg is a slightly less obvious choice. It’s a bit quieter and a bit less touristy, but no less interesting or scenic to visit. The main sights of the Black Forest are easily within 30 minutes – 60 minutes drive away. From Triberg Waterfalls (1 hour away), the lake-side retreat of Titisee (40 minutes away), the stunning Ravenna Gorge, located just outside charming Hinterzarten (35 minutes), or Felberg, The Black Forest’s highest mountain peak (50 minutes).

It’s no secret how much we love The Black Forest and Freiburg offers the perfect mix of city life, plus stunning scenery, and is the gateway to exploring the rest of the region.

In summary – why do we love Freiburg? With the Black Forest literally on the doorstep of this vibrant city, Freiburg offers the best of both worlds. You can enjoy everything this historic city has to offer, but you are no more than a bus ride or short train journey away from some of Germany’s most stunning scenery, making this a must on our round-up of bucket list cities to visit in Germany!

View of Munich city centre

2. Munich

Munich is the capital of Bavaria! It’s full of rich history, architecture, beer halls, scenic parks, and famous for Oktoberfest. Munich was one of our favourite cities we visited during our road trip. Getting around Munich is also super easy. While a fairly major city, it certainly feels smaller than other large cities and many of the main sights, attractions and parks can be easily explored on foot.

Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) and the Glockenspiel

In the old town, you will notice the gothic Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), with it’s stunning design and detail in the heart of the old town. It is also famed for its glockenspiel mechanical clock, which chimes everyday at 11am and 12pm, re-enacting scenes from Munich’s history. The display is quite something to witness, with everyone in the old town gathering to watch the show. The Town Hall also features an 85m tower, which you can get to the top of via an elevator, offering fab views across the city.

Check out the city Churches

The most famous churches in Munich include St Peter’s and Frauenkirche. Although the New Town Hall offers fantastic views over the city, there’s no better city centre lookout than St Peter’s Church Bell Tower. Situated right in the heart of Marienplatz, the Bell Tower offers incredible views directly over the old town, including a the town hall itself, and the beautiful Frauenkirche Church, with its iconic twin towers and red roof.

Englischer Garten

 For such a large city, Munich is surprisingly green, with the beautiful Englisch Garten at its heart. At 1.45sqm (3.75skm) this is Munich’s answer to New York’s Central Park.

This park stretches from the city centre to the northern limits of Munich. It includes a large lake teeming with wildlife and you can even ride pedalo boats! There’s a scenic beer garden and several cute cafes and restaurants, plus miles of peaceful scenic walks. It’s a great place to kick back, relax and people watch.

From the park you can also stroll along the Eisbach, a 1.2m (2km) manmade river which cuts along the park. You can watch people surfing along the rapids, which is a popular pastime, especially during the summer. 

Munch old town
Munich - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany


Slightly outside the city centre, is Olympiapark, home to the Olympic Tower – a 291m tower, with an observation deck at 190m offering views far and wide. There’s also an exhibition in the tower commemorating the 50th anniversary of the tower. You can also visit the stadium built for the 1972 Summer Olympics. The grounds within Olympic Park are expansive and you can easily spend a day here touring the sights and taking in the scenery. A short walk from here is also the BMW Museum if you fancy adding that to your day.

Oktoberfest and Beer Halls

Munich is of course world famous for its Oktoberfest – a huge beer festival held in the heart of the city over a 2 week period.

Germany (and especially Bavaria) is known for great beer and Oktoberfest is a brilliant way to celebrate this! Particularly within the city’s incredible beerhalls – of which there is non other more famous than Hofbräuhaus Brewery. The beerhouse is filled with huge, long tables and benches. Pull up a seat and get chatting to everyone on your table. They regularly have Oompah bands playing and for those who don’t like beer, they also sell wine (although only by the bottle and it’s kept down in the cellar, so you may have to wait a while).

In summary – why do we love Munich? Culture, nice people, peaceful parks, city views, good food and great nightlife. Munich is the perfect package! You will be entertained from start to finish, whether you’re here for a long weekend or more.

Berlin - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

1. Berlin

As the capital of Germany, Berlin absolutely tops out on our bucket list cities to visit in Germany. Rich in culture, history, art, architecture and food. Whatever your interests and plans, whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, with friends or as a family, you will find that there is something for everyone.

Berlin Wall

The city has had quite a turbulent past, but certainly in more modern history, the most memorable events are the Second World War and the Cold War. The East Side Gallery is the largest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, originally constructed in 1961 and taken down in 1989. It was built by the Democratic Party to prevent people in Soviet-controlled East Berlin escaping to West Berlin, which was controlled at the time by the major Western Allies. The wall was heavily guarded, keeping families and friends apart for decades and resulted in thousands being trapped on the wrong side of the wall. It’s a great memorial of an event that shaped a huge part of Berlin’s history, and the city it has become today.

WW2 History – Holocaust Memorial

Whether you’re interested in history or not, I don’t believe you can visit Berlin without visiting at least one of the historical memorials of the Holocaust. Before the war, Berlin was a city which had one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a beautiful and incredibly thought-provoking place. Made of 2,711 concrete blocks, all different shapes, sizes and angles, it is a peaceful part of the city, where you can wander think. It is a beautiful, respectful tribute and memorial, and well worth a visit.

Museums galore

Did you know Berlin has over 170 museums!? From the German Museum of Technology or the Jewish Museum, to the Natural History Museum and contemporary art museum. The city has it all – it even has Museum Island, a small complex comprising of 5 key museums.

Elsewhere in the city there is also the Topography of Terror, an incredible museum which once used to be the headquarters of the Gestapo. The museum captures the terror enforced by the Nazi regime before and during World War II.

Berliner Dom
Berlin Wall
Holocaust Memorial


Berlin has changed a lot over the years and this is evident from its eclectic mix of architecture. From the 18th-century neoclassical monument of Brandenburg Gate and the iconic Berliner Dom, to more modern structures like the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) or the Reichstag – a huge glass dome with a 360 degree walkway, which sits on top of the city’s Government building (Bundestag).

Fernsehturm (TV Tower)

On that note – built in 1969, the TV Tower is the tallest building in Berlin at 386m tall. It includes a viewing gallery at 203m and a revolving restaurant at 207m. It is one of the most famous landmarks in the Berlin skyline and offers fantastic panoramic views across the city.

As a side note, if views are what you’re after, then Panorama Punkt in Potsdamer Platz is also well worth a visit. It has an observation deck with incredible views over the city and looking straight at the TV Tower.

Street art

Berlin has become renowned for its graffiti scene, giving life and interest to otherwise less-glamourous parts of the city. Definitely, one of the best examples of the city’s street art is the East Side Gallery, with 200+ pieces of artwork featured all along the wall.

Climb to the top of the Reichstag

Sitting on top of a Government building (Bundestag) is a large glass dome, The Reichstag. Featuring a large curved walkway inside and offering 360 degree views of the city as you climb higher up the walkway. The views look out over Tiergarten Park, Brandenburg Gate, the TV Tower and the Berliner Dom. Make sure you order your tickets in advance online. You can also pay extra for a tour around the Government building itself too.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Located a 30-40 minute train journey just outside Berlin, is Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Whilst not as well known as say Auschwitz in Poland, or Dachau near Munich, it is no less pivotal. Sachsenhausen was the second camp to have been developed, built in 1936 (Auschwitz for example was built in 1940). It was originally built as a political prisoner camp, where Hitler sent many of his opposition during his rise to power. However as the Nazi regime grew, the camp eventually evolved into an extermination camp. Today you can explore the ruins of the gas chambers, plus the medical block where experiments were conducted on the prisoners. It is an eye-opening experience, but one we would urge everyone to do.

Berlin Brandenburg Gate
Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Berlin
Berlin - Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany
Gendermenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin

Beautiful city parks

With more than 2,500 parks, Berlin is one of the greenest cities you can visit. Some of the most central and largest parks to visit are Tiergarten Park and Volkspark Friedrichshain.

Tiergarten is Berlin’s oldest and largest park, at around 520 acres. It borders popular sites like Potsdamer Platz and Brandenburg Gate, making it easily accessible. The park houses Berlin Zoo, plus the Soviet War Memorial and the Global Stone peace project. The park is an incredibly peaceful place to be, filled with green lawns and tree lined paths. It’s perfect for an autumn or winter stroll, or grabbing a drink in the summer at one of the beer gardens and sunbathing by park’s lakes.

Another peaceful space, filled with landscaped gardens and ponds is Volkspark Friedrichshain, a popular retreat slightly outside the heart of Berlin. It has cafes, a restaurant and beer garden, plus sunbathing spots, interesting sculptures and two artificial mountains made from demolished WWII bunkers. 

Christmas Markets

If you visit Berlin in December then make sure you take advantage of the festivities and visit the city’s fantastic Christmas markets. There is no better way to get into the Christmas spirit! Check out the stalls where vendors sell handmade unique gifts, grab yourself a steamy mug of mulled wine and drink in the atmosphere. Two of the largest and most popular Christmas markets include Gendermenmarkt, or Potsdamer Platz.

In summary – why do we love Berlin? Come for the history, culture, art scene and museums, stay for the skyline views, stunning parks and great food, drink and nightlife. We also have a full write-up about our 4 days in Berlin if you’d like more detail.

We hope you enjoyed our round-up of bucket list cities to visit in Germany! These are just based on our own experiences, but there are many more cities we are still yet to explore. Are there any places in Germany you would also recommend? Please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you! If you found our blog helpful, check out our Insta @welovetravel.in – if you give us a follow don’t forget to say hey!

For more Germany travel inspiration check out our other guides and Trip Reports below:

Bucket List Cities to Visit in Germany

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